Asian shares mixed at start of new year

Asian shares mixed at start of new year
An employee of a foreign exchange trading company looks at monitors in Tokyo November 15, 2013.

HONG KONG - Asian share markets began the new year mixed on Thursday, with another record-breaking close on Wall Street offset by a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing growth.

Trading across the region was quiet after the break. The dollar held on to its recent gains against the yen, sitting just below five-year highs.

Sydney added 0.29 per cent, or 15.7 points, to 5,367.9 while Seoul tumbled 2.20 per cent, or 44.15 points, to close at 1,967.19.

Shanghai lost 0.31 per cent, or 6.59 points, to 2,109.39 and Hong Kong added 0.14 per cent, or 33.66 points, to 23,340.05.

Tokyo and Wellington were closed for public holidays.

US shares gave a positive lead going into 2014, with investors in New York upbeat after a series of strong data indicating the world's top economy is getting back up to speed.

The Dow added 0.44 per cent and the S&P 500 gained 0.40 per cent in Tuesday trade -- both new records -- while the Nasdaq rose 0.54 per cent to hit its high for the year.

The Dow gained 26.5 per cent in 2013 -- its best percentage rise in more than 15 years -- while the S&P 500 advanced 29.6 per cent, marking its strongest jump since 1997.

However, while the performance in New York provided a catalyst for buying, figures showing that factory activity in China had slowed weighed on sentiment.

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